Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

The Men’s Tjilirra Movement–changing minds and saving lives (#406)

Pamela Nathan 1
  1. CASSE Australia Inc, Kew, VIC, Australia

Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment (CASSE) has facilitated the emergence of the Men’s Tjilirra Movement in collaboration with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). The heart of the Men’s Tjilirra Movement lies in Australia’s remote central and western desert region, in the communities of Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji), Mt Liebig (Watiyawanu), Kintore (Walangurru), Papunya (Warumpi) and Kiwikurra.

Tjilirra are 60,000 years old. Tjilirra are traditional tools of ancient ceremony, Aboriginal dreamtime and law. They have been confiscated under Western law as weapons. The men of the Western desert, many who were the last to cease living a nomadic lifestyle in the 1970s say ‘‘they are proud’’ when they make them. Re-establishing a cycle that was on the brink of destruction, the Elder men are again passing on their knowledge of making tjilirra to the younger generation in recognition of the importance of tjilirra to cultural, community and emotional wellbeing. Tjilirra symbolise being, continuity in being, affirmation of cultural worlds, kinship relationships, differences, transmissions and transformations. Tjilirra are tools for living in two very different worlds.

CASSE’s is a psychological not-for-profit organisation with the vision to change minds in order to save lives. CASSE aims to promote safe, supportive environments through psychoanalytic awareness. We focus on empowering people and communities to understand and work through their trauma (manifest by suicide, depression, violence, substance usage, etc.) by preserving and strengthening cultural life and capacity between the generations. Working with Aboriginal people in addressing mental health problems is critical for people to achieve emotional wellbeing, rebuild their lives, establish healthy futures, engage in economic life and alleviate dependence on government financial support.